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THE SOUL OF, THE SOUL IN ITSELF, AND THE FLYING MAN EXPERIMENT

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 August 2018

Tommaso Alpina*
Affiliation:
Scuola Normale Superiore, Piazza dei Cavalieri, 7 56126, Pisa, Italia

Abstract

In Avicenna's Nafs there are two investigations that run in parallel from its very beginning: (a) the investigation of the soul as a relational entity, always considered in connection with the body, and (b) that of the human soul in itself. Both investigations aim at ascertaining the existence and the essence of the soul, in relation to the body, of which it is the soul, and in itself respectively. The aim of this contribution is to reconstruct the phases of these investigations, in order to single out the way in which they are mutually related to each other, and to detect what acts as an indicator of the transition from the first, more general investigation to the second, more specific one. In my reconstruction, this role is assigned to the Flying Man experiment. In order to corroborate this interpretation, passages from three other Avicennian works (Ḥikma mašriqiyya or al-Mašriqiyyūn, Kitāb al-Išārāt wa-l-Tanbīhāt, and Risāla Aḍḥawiyya fī l-ma‘ād) are taken into account, since they contain the three other attested formulations of the Flying Man experiment, and an argumentative move similar to the one detectable in the Nafs.

Résumé

Il y a, dans le Nafs d'Avicenne, deux enquêtes cheminant dès le début en parallèle : (a) celle sur l’âme comme entité relationnelle, toujours considérée dans sa connexion avec le corps, et (b) celle sur l’âme humaine en elle-même. Les deux enquêtes visent à établir l'existence et l'essence de l’âme, respectivement en relation au corps dont elle est l’âme et en soi-même. Le but de cette contribution est de reconstruire les étapes de ces enquêtes, afin de mettre en relief leur relation mutuelle, et d'identifier ce qui fait office d'indicateur permettant de localiser la transition de la première enquête, plus générale, à la seconde, plus spécifique. Selon la reconstitution ici présentée, ce rôle peut être attribué à l'expérience de l’homme volant. Afin de corroborer cette interprétation, on prendra en considération trois autres ouvrages d'Avicenne (Ḥikmamašriqiyya ou al-Mašriqiyyūn, Kitāb al-Išārāt wa-l-Tanbīhāt et Risāla Aḍḥawiyya fī l-ma‘ād), ceux-ci contenant les trois autres formulations attestées de l’homme volant, ainsi qu'un mouvement argumentatif similaire à celui que l'on peut reconstituer dans le Nafs.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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